Manchester United FC captain Nemanja Vidić could miss the start of the UEFA Champions League group stage because of a calf muscle injury.
The Serbian international centre-back picked up the problem in Sunday's 2-1 Premier League victory at West Bromwich Albion FC. The 29-year-old was originally expected to be sidelined for a fortnight but now faces a five-week absence. However, there was a silver lining for United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with the news that Vidić's central defensive partner Rio Ferdinand could return from a hamstring injury by the end of the month.
"Last week we thought Rio's hamstring would have him out for six weeks and with Vidić we thought it was just a nerve problem," said Sir Alex. "That's reversed itself. Vidić has got a calf muscle injury, which means he'll be four to five weeks. It's longer than we thought. Meanwhile, Rio's injury isn't as bad and he could be ready for our game against Arsenal [on 28 August]."
Meanwhile, left-back Patrice Evra, who sat out United's opening league fixture against West Brom with a knee complaint, should be back for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur FC on Monday. The UEFA Champions League group stage commences on 13/14 September, with the draw being made in Monaco next Thursday.
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